As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Queensland has once again closed its borders to NSW and the ACT.
On 8 August 2020, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Queensland would close its borders to New South Wales and the ACT, with only a handful of exceptions (namely residents of border communities and essential workers) being allowed into the State. Parties’ subject to formal parenting Orders are exempt however we understand that you will need to provide evidence of the Orders at border checkpoints.
We have seen a significant rise in disputes surrounding parenting arrangements, as well as an increase in the number of people ‘breaching’ those care arrangements, recently which cite Coronavirus as a ‘reasonable excuse’.
In March 2020, Chief Justice Will Alstergren (who is the Chief Justice of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia) issued a publication which directed people to continue to comply with their parenting arrangements unless circumstances outside of a parties’ control (such as the closure of a Contact Centre) render it impossible to comply with those Orders. In response to the Coronavirus crisis, the Court established the ‘COVID-19 Urgent Parenting List” which, if your matter is accepted as meeting the criteria, will be heard within three days.
However, in most cases, your Orders (whether related to parenting matters or even family or domestic violence) remain unaffected and you will be directed to comply with the same. We have found in many cases that if one (or both) parties’ sought legal advice at the outset of their dispute, they would save themselves significant time, money and emotional energy dealing with the dispute appropriately.
Courts are still functioning properly and remaining committed to providing parties’ access to justice. That being said, we may be able to assist you to resolve your dispute without the need to come before a Court and so we would encourage anyone who is having any difficulties whether great or small, in relation to parenting matters which are affected by Coronavirus and the recent border closures/Public Health Directions, to contact our office on 1800 431 592 to arrange a consultation with our experienced Family Lawyer to review your options.